In 1924, this advertisement was placed in the British Press:
A bizarre range of persons claimed they were approached by the Albanian delegation, including a famed English Cricketer, a Muslim Convert MP, a Scottish Lord, a Turkish Prince and American Industrialists.
British cricketer CB Fry wrote: “I do not say I received a specific and definite invitation to become king of Albania…. But I was well in the running”. He met the delegation but did not have sufficient private income to accept it. In 1939 he claimed if he had been King he would have prevented Mussolini invading Albania: “It would have been ideal at the end of March for English cricket teams to come out in a favorable climate and get some practice in the sun before the county season and damn it, nobody would have dared invade Albania with county cricket going on. The British Navy would have been absolutely obliged to step in and prevent it”. [CB Fry: King Of Sport – By Iain Wilton].
Prince Noureddin Vlora
In May 1923 the Sunday Times named him the ‘probable King of Albania’. “It is well known in diplomatic circles the problem of finding a satisfactory ruler is a hard one. The people are fierce mountaineers, walking arsenals of rifles and knives. They are Mohammedans and polygamists”. The Urban Courier. He was the son of the Turkish vizier who had married an American heiress Helen Kelly. Gossip said she left him due to his feverish enthusiasm for dancers imported from the reddest dives of Constantinople.
The 8th Duke of Atholl
In 1921, MP Aubrey Herbert alleged the FCO: “Without asking the Albanians had gone to Lord Atholl and offered him the Crown of Albania”. He said the story was the talk of Parliament. [Aubrey Herbert – Making of Modern Albania]
The Muslim Peer – Lord Headley
Irish Peer and Muslim convert refused the crown, claiming: “I told them if they would guarantee £100,000 and £10,000 a year, I would consider it. The Albanians want an Englishman, a peer, and a Moslem. They will not have anyone else.” He was president of the British Moslem Society and the first British peer to go on the Haj. [Adelaide Advertiser, 24 June 1935].
The shipping magnate received an offer of the throne via a letter which ended: “Perhaps next time you are cruising in the Mediterranean you would feel drawn to put in at Valona or Durazzo in order to express your sentiments.” His reply was short. “It is a great compliment to be offered the crown of Albania but it is not in my line!”
Jerome Bonaparte (Gentleman of Leisure)
The Albanian Commissioner A.J. Chekrevi denied it to the New York Times while Bonaparte admitted he had: “Met Chekrevi who was looking for a ruler and asked me how I would like to be a Balkan ruler. Neither of us took the proposition seriously.” [Miami News Dec 17 1921]
Millionaire Bramley claimed he saw the advert, went to the consul and even went to Albania then decided against it. [Milwaukee Journal Mar 27 1937]. The former American Minister in Tirana, Ulysses Grant-Smith said in 1924 a wandering millionaire strolled into his office to see if “that there king job was still open to a live bird with plenty of dough”. [Time Magazine – April 7th 1924]
William B Leeds Junior
Known as “the tin-plate king, his wife was nicknamed “the dollar princess” due to her social climb from office worker to princess. The press claimed: “She may become queen of Albania. Rumors are she has ordered a magnificent coronation robe in New York – a regal garment embroidered with Byzantine eagles”.
The newspapers summarized the King-hunt as follows:
Three Americans and one Turk have declined the throne of Albania because their wives said they must. It was offered to an English peer and among those who applied were a nobleman and an ambitious dentist. Albania’s thoughts have turned fondly to American dollars. First on Harry Sinclair, oil magnate, who gave it consideration due to his recent oil scandal, but when he learned the Albanians had shot their Premier said no. Another nominee for the country where the men wear petticoats was Jerome Bonaparte, descendant of Napoleon, but Mrs B preferred America where millionaires have the privileges of kings, and no responsibilities. William B. Leeds refused when his wife was not keen. The pocket-hankerchief state with its fire-eating inhabitants asked Prince Vlora of Turkey, but his wife, refused. So Albania still lacks an Mpret. If it ever gets one he will have to be a bachelor. [Advertiser 12 May 1924].